Although it’s not the beginning of a new calendar year, September can feel fresh and new, even if your days of returning to the classroom are behind you. Traditional schooling doesn’t have to be your only opportunity to learn new things if you’re looking to make positive changes this fall.  If you’re out of school, but still looking to learn new things, there are lots of non-traditional opportunities to learn here in our Region. Many of them are free or offered at minimal cost. Listed below are just some ideas to get the knowledge ball rolling.

Diploma in Local Democracy

If you are interested in community engagement, a discussion-led opportunity held by the Waterloo School for Community Development within The Working Centre is offered in the winter (January – April) to reflect on and learn more about local democracy. Maybe this upcoming municipal election season has got you thinking about your place in this community or maybe you’re even thinking of running for city council someday. If that sounds like you, check this program out. The classes are held in the evening, making it easier to attend for those who typically work during the day. This program does require a formal application process.  

Humanities 101 Course

In this 12-week program by Renison University College, in collaboration with The Working Centre, guest lecturers from several disciplines talk about a different topic each week. This course is offered to individuals that have faced barriers in attending post-secondary education, specifically those who have been economically marginalized. To be eligible, you must have a high school diploma, live in the Region, identify as low-income and speak English. More information can be found online. 

Leadership Development Training Program

If you’re a newcomer, and also an aspiring change maker in your community, this program offers some tips on leadership, running projects and building on existing skills. Bridging Resources is a division of KW Counselling that reaches out to ethno-cultural leaders to enhance the sense of belonging in Waterloo Region. The goal is to bridge resources that may be inaccessible to some communities. If that sounds like something you’d be good at, this leadership training program may be suited for you.

Public Lecture Series

Intrigued by astrophysics and astronomy? The Perimeter Institute invites speakers all over the world on these topics! Attendance is free, but you must secure a ticket to go. If you can’t get a ticket, they do have a waiting line for “no show” seats, and they also broadcast them in the Black Hole Bistro on TV’s. These lectures are a great way to get out of the house and learn something new! 

Workshops by Library of Things

Library of Things occasionally offers workshops on using different tools and equipment for home construction projects. Past classes have been “Learn to Solder” or “All Saws Saturday.” Keep an eye out for dates this fall. 

Workshops by REEP Green Solutions

If you’re a homeowner, or even if you’re renting, REEP Green Solutions offers several workshops on living sustainability — from education on energy efficiency to water conservation. For example, there is a workshop this weekend called “Prepping Your Home for the Winter,” which is not only a great way to learn more about sustainability, but also to save money in the long-run.  

Film Screenings

Every other month, a free screening on an environmental or social justice topic is offered by Cinema Politica Waterloo, a not-for-profit initiative with chapters all over the world started by students. The aim is to show films in an accessible way while promoting underrepresented narratives. While there currently aren’t any scheduled screenings, keep an eye on their site for more information coming soon.

With notes from Beth Bowles